The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council released a draft determination in March 2015 to address "the exclusivity arrangements which limit who can take responsibility for the provision of metering services, impede competition and potentially encourage the continued use of accumulation meters."
In a summary of the draft determination, the COAG Energy Council said it has identified a number of issues with the National Electricity Rules (NER) and National Energy Retail Rules (NERR) in its rule change request that limit competition and may inhibit investment in the provision of advanced metering services.
The council also identified that certain exit fees and the structure of metering charges create a disincentive for retailers to invest in advanced meters.
Other issues identified by the COAG Energy Council related to minimum requirements for advanced meters and uncertainty over access to advanced metering services and metering data and consumer protections.
Giving consumers choice of meters
The draft rule opens up the provision of metering services to more competition to promote efficient investment and increased consumer choice in products and services.
It also includes a number of other features to support a competitive framework, including new minimum requirements for new and replacement meters for small customers and new obligations so that security of, and access to, advanced meters and the services they provide are managed appropriately.
The consistent NEM-wide approach to metering services across jurisdictions also reduces impediments to investment.
Opting-out of meter replacement
The draft rule would lay the foundation for a market-led and consumer driven approach to the deployment of advanced meters.
Other than where a new or replacement meter needs to be installed, advanced meters would only be deployed where energy businesses and consumers want access to the services enabled by advanced meters at a price they are willing to pay for those services.
The draft rule also provides for consumers to continue to deal solely with their retailer and opt-out of having their existing working meter replaced.
The Draft Rule Determination specifies that the new Chapter 7 of the NER would start on 1 July 2017, although some provisions would come into effect earlier to allow a range of parties to undertake a number of steps prior to the commencement of the new arrangements.